Although Sunday’s blustery conditions subsided somewhat Monday, the combination of stiff breezes and dry conditions means the risk of wildfires remains elevated across eastern Pennsylvania.
In a special weather statement issued Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service said the risk would remain high into Monday evening across the Lehigh Valley, the Philadelphia metropolitan area, northeastern Maryland, northern Delaware and southern New Jersey.
“A combination of low relative humidity, west winds and dry fine fuels will lead to an elevated risk for fire spread with any potential fire starts…across New Jersey, southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware and eastern Maryland,” the statement said.
The NWS noted that relative humidity is in the 20 to 25 percent range, and said winds were generally expected to be 10 to 15 mph “with an occasional gust to 20 mph.”
Due to the conditions, residents are being urged to use caution with anything that could potentially ignite a wildfire, including cigarettes and fireworks.
“Any dry grasses, dead leaves and other tree litter that ignite will have the potential to spread fire quickly,” the statement said.
Channel 69 News Monday reported on a wildfire that broke out in Earl Township, Berks County, over the weekend, in a story that cited an earlier start to the brush fire season than is typical.
According to the news story, Saturday’s fire was ignited by a spark related to metal work that was being performed.
According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation & Natural Resources wildfire danger map–which is updated daily–all of southeastern Pennsylvania including Northampton and Lehigh counties is currently at a “high” level of danger.
“The greatest danger of wildfires in Pennsylvania occurs during the spring months of March, April, and May, and the autumn months of October and November,” the DCNR website states.
It also notes that burning debris is a major cause of wildfires in the state.
Refraining from burning leaves and other refuse when conditions are dry can help prevent brush fires from breaking out.
For more information about how to prevent wildfires, visit DCNR.pa.gov.
The wildfire threat is likely to continue Tuesday, when highs are expected to reach the low 60s and winds are forecast to be 5 to 15 mph throughout the area.
The next chance for rain will be Wednesday night and Thursday, according to the latest NWS forecast for the Allentown area.
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